Home & Away: Home Is Where You Make It

‘Home is where you make it, if you don’t expose yourself to your new environment, what’s the point.’

Meet my friend Bacon. I met him this year when he put his hand up to play netball for our college team. I was then lucky enough to attend a leadership conference at university where we were in the same team. Since then, I’ve come to know Bacon as an extremely positive, outgoing and happy member of our college community and a lovely friend. Bacon is from Malaysia and currently studying Commerce with a double major in accounting and finance. Having only been in Australia for four months, Bacon offered some very unique perspectives on the management of home in Malaysia and here in Australia.

My friend Bacon
My friend Bacon
Family in Malaysia 

Bacon’s parents and two older sisters still live in Malaysia. I automatically assumed he would spend a lot of time on Skype, and was extremely surprised to discover that he usually makes phone calls to his family back home. “I get 300 minutes of free international calls, it’s a lot easier and cheaper for me to just call them.” Then when discussing Skype and the wonders of new technology, he said that he rarely used Skype. I was pretty surprised because when I spent a year abroad, I generally Skyped my parents once a week. But then he proceeded to explain the frustration associated with dodgy internet connections and I remembered back to all of those frustrated hours spent loading and reloading Skype due to horrible connection. He concluded saying that Skype leaves him wishing he was at home with his family or wishing that his family were here with him, so he’d rather stick with his fortnightly phone calls.

Bacon knows that his parents and family is only a phone call away which is a reassuring feeling when separated by distance. It’s common for international students to have a ‘telepresence’ with their network back in their home country (Martin & Rizvi, 2014), which is the sensation of being somewhere else through technology. Bacon’s new ‘complex social networks exemplify the blurred lines between ‘here’ and ‘there’ (Martin, &Rizvi) and allow him to balance these networks despite distance.

Friends in Australia 

Bacon is extremely independent, so it makes sense as to why he has already created a new home here in Wollongong. Bacon says he has two sorts of ‘groups’ here in Australia; one is of International Students, and a group of other Asian students. He likes being apart of both groups because it’s nice to connect with other people who share similar cultural traits, however he enjoys making the most of his new Australian friends. Living at college makes it easier for him to embrace the opportunity to live and study in Australia and create a home here. He’s also taken on the challenge of adopting some Australian slang like arvo and dodgy (which he used effortlessly in our conversation). ‘I’ve noticed that a lot of Asian international students tend to stick together. I love hanging out with them, but at the end of the day I came to Australia to immerse myself in this environment. I want to make the most of this opportunity.’ 

Bacon represents people who keep in contact with their friends and family back home, however don’t let it interfere with their newly created home. He lives in the moment and makes the most of opportunities, whilst balancing different friend groups here in Australia, all with a smile.

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Thankyou Bacon for your time, energy and insight into communication in Australia and back home for International Students. Your opinions and perspectives are incredibly valued. 

Further Information

“If you spend your time absorbed in your phone, you’re missing out on living in the moment”

The following video is an information clip for outgoing exchange students heading to Denmark on exchange. It covers very interesting points about keeping in touch and making the most of your time abroad.

References

Martin, F, & Rizvi, F 2014, ‘Making Melbourne: digital connectivity and international students’ experience of locality’, Media, Culture & Society, 36, 7, pp. 1016-1031, viewed 31 October 2015, http://japanfocus.org/-Audrey-Yue/4268/article.html

International Education: Easy as ABC?

In the thriving 21st Century, finishing school and completing a university degree is simply not enough. Employers are now looking for employees with life skills and life experience; something that studying abroad facilitates. ‘International Students have a broader mindset’ (Top Universities, 2014), a desirable trait for companies in the current globalised economy.

International Students generally possess ‘high levels of motivation and dedication’ (Khorana, 2014). International Students but why do some International Students experience loneliness, isolation and anxiety when they come to Australia?

Surprisingly enough to us Aussies, Australia can be a very confusing place for people who have never been ‘Down Under.’ We do not speak ‘English’ as International Students are taught at schools. Instead we speak with a distinct Australian accent in a strange Australian language. Slang and colloquial words are used regularly in every day speech, we tend to shorten words like afternoon to arvo and university to uni which ‘confuse students who are used to a more formal type of English.’ (Kell and Vogl,2006). We don’t live lifestyles like those on Home and Away (or maybe those lucky enough to live in Wollongong might). What might seem like ridiculous stereotypes to us Aussies, can be expected from International Students who have had limited exposure to Australian culture. So when we’re not wearing thongs, singlets, have tans, a surfboard under our arm or cooking a shrimp on the barbie, it can be difficult for International Students to identify and connect with Australians. Some International Students can sometimes see ‘only Anglo Australians as ‘real’ Australians.’ (Kell and Vogl, 2006), however, according to the 2011 census, 1 in 4 Australians are born overseas. (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

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Scene from Home and Away: Beach, Surfboard, Caucasian skin, tanned… Australian right?

I interact with International Students on a daily basis. I live at a university college… ‘International House,’ home to both Australians and International Students, and I now have friends from across the globe… Iceland, France, Sweden, America, Malaysia, Japan and Indonesia, teaching them some vital Australian slang along the way, I too would like to go on exchange one day and seeing the strength, maturity, responsibility and confidence of International Students  I have come across, it is truly inspiring and motivating to take part in the global education the world has to offer.

References

Graduate Jobs: What Employers Look For , Top Universities. 2014.Graduate Jobs: What Employers Look For | Top Universities, http://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/careers-advice/graduate-jobs-what-employers-look, accessed 20 August 2014

Khorana S, 2014, BCM111 Lecture Slides, Internationalising Education- Cultural Competence and Cosmopolitanism, delivered 13 August 2014

Kell, P., Vogl, G. 2006, Centre for Research on Social Inclusion. Everyday Multiculturalism Conference, Proceedings of the Everyday Multiculturalism Conference of the CRSI – 28-29 Sept. 2006: Online Publication, : Centre for Research on Social Inclusion, Macquarie University. Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011 Census reveals one in four Australians is born overseas. 2014. 2011 Census reveals one in four Australians is born overseashttp://abs.gov.au/websitedbs/censushome.nsf/home/CO-59. Accessed 20 August 2014